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Thread: What3Words

  1. #1
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    Default What3Words

    Don't know if peeps have come across this, but it kinda strikes me as a very handy tool/service for people paddling/dog walking/etc off the beaten track who meet with some unfortunate accident.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47705912


    https://what3words.com/

    Simply, with just 3 words your position can be pinpointed to a single 3 meter square anywhere on Earth.
    Also handy for identifying put-ins, get-outs and places to meet.

  2. #2
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    Saw that this morning, quite good for the non-map users and it being global etc. Coincidentally the 3 words for my bedroom had chainsaw in it
    Cheers,

    Alan


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    I'm not convinced of the utility of this in the UK. There are plenty of mapping apps that will give a 8 or 10 figure OS grid reference, locating to within 1m, or latitude/longitude position that can be converted to a grid reference. In mountain rescue we use an app that triggers the casualty's phone to send its location as a grid reference to our incident control. This integrates with the search management and mapping software and greatly speeds up our response. Sometimes we are able to then talk someone down the hill if they are simply lost. Our local ambulance and police services are both aware of the system and have used it successfully too.
    Obviously it is dependent on phone signal strength, but in our area we have found that where there is enough signal to make a call there is usually enough to use the app too.
    Last edited by Gordon G; 27th-March-2019 at 10:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    Interesting.

    I tend to think in the UK we already have a great system with OS Grid refs (the app OS Locate being one of several which give you an instant reference with the ability to share it, as well as a compass that actually allows use on a map (though I wouldn't rely on it myself!).

    However, I can see that this What3Words approach might grab the attention of the public more easily, and could therefore be a better way of approaching the subject; some people are worried about not understanding grid references. Quite a clever approach.

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  5. #5
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    Enjoy your latte.milk.tiffin
    Cheers,

    Alan


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    Have you ever been sitting on a train or bus and overheard a conversation which has left you completely baffled? For me, reading these posts is like accidentally eavesdropping on a NASA technical conference............Having set the scene, and I think I know the answer, I take it a telephone connected to the Internet is a requirement for this new '' where am I rescue me " idea?

    My Doro pensioner's phone with big buttons will not tell me where I am, I take it?.......

  7. #7
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    Enjoy your latte.milk.tiffin
    That takes me to latte.milk.muffin, in the middle of the Black River on the border between Columbia and Venezuela (I assume latte.milk.tiffin doesn't exist).

    The combinations seem entirely random, but it's amusing to see what exists - lost.canoe.paddle is in China (possible a small but dirty stream?), silly.walks.ministry is in Angola, etc!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_B View Post

    The combinations seem entirely random, but it's amusing to see what exists - lost.canoe.paddle is in China (possible a small but dirty stream?), silly.walks.ministry is in Angola, etc!
    And a whole new sport is born!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  9. #9
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    open.canoe.sank, is in deepest Alaska, not far off the Yukon. Seems perfect!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    open.canoe.sank, is in deepest Alaska, not far off the Yukon. Seems perfect!
    This can't be entirely random, canoe.mountain.lake is just over the river!
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  11. #11
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    Mind you, canoe.portage.rapids is in the middle of the ocean between Chile and Antarctica...
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  12. #12
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    The major problem for the system is it assumes everyone in the world speaks and spells English, also unlike a grid based system there is no way of knowing the relative distance between points

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    Quote Originally Posted by nantcoly View Post
    The major problem for the system is it assumes everyone in the world speaks and spells English, also unlike a grid based system there is no way of knowing the relative distance between points
    and they have a phone that can handle it.

  14. #14
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    Having had a little play the 3 word system it seems very random, even within a small area, you would hope that the words would be somewhat more focussed so that a typo wouldn't send you off to the South Pole rather than just the next town?
    DCUK
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  15. #15
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    Doesn't seem completely random I found the following amusing the results from the middle of the Gulf of corryvreckan

    Grudge yachting issue

    Amplifier engine shipped


    However a field outside Tadcaster has the following

    Many boating supported



    They seem to have omitted some less commonly used words I can't find any squares containing the word scuppered

    Ewan

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  16. #16
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    Having been on a Scout first responder training course this week it appears that they are advising the use of What3Words through most of the emergency services now. I can definitely see the benefits of this system in giving a quick location for an emergency scenario. If you are not confident with grid references or do not have a map on you then it is a quick and easy location system for emergency help allowing you time to get on with the important things like saving a life.
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  17. #17
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    they are advising the use of What3Words through most of the emergency services now
    Is that authoritative? I did search recently to find out which, and couldn't find many. Apparently they have to pay to use it. There are also some views about suggesting it's not as much of a good idea as it seems:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what3words-confusion-suitable-emergency-response-gary-delaney

    https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2019/03/why...t-three-words/

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    You want to worry mate .... I’m currently globule.beatable.hugged ... think I’ll move

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Interesting.

    I tend to think in the UK we already have a great system with OS Grid refs (the app OS Locate being one of several which give you an instant reference with the ability to share it, as well as a compass that actually allows use on a map (though I wouldn't rely on it myself!).

    However, I can see that this What3Words approach might grab the attention of the public more easily, and could therefore be a better way of approaching the subject; some people are worried about not understanding grid references. Quite a clever approach.

    I am currently in brass.soap.cloak.
    MarkL
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    I quite like being at slurping pegs guess

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    Currently I am in (a) daring.lion.race - while sat at my desk! Which I have to say sounds a lot more fun than the 8-figure grid reference, but is much less useful to navigate by.

  21. #21
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    I would prefer to use an app such as
    GPS share If I chose to use my telephone
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....sharelocation

    This way I can send my latitude and longitude location as a text message without need for a data signal but also include a Google Map link without a data signal which is useful to

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  22. #22
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    I know where I am (I'm at home) ... I have a map and I know how to use it so I also know my OS Map Grid reference, I have a portable Garmin GPS Map, it confirms my OS coordinates and also tells me my Lat/Long in whichever format I like ... I like digital as it's easy to input into the cars Sat Nav ... any of these I can tap into a PC and see/say "yep, that's where I am". Google Maps tells me I'm there too :-)
    All of this existing technology (and more, the emergency services can locate you from your mobile phone signal) already work really well.
    What 3 Words, I am still failing to see how this is helpful in any way at all.
    "Hi Dad, I'm at Radish/Sprouting/South" ... good for you, when you've recovered enough to talk sense and tell me where you are I might come and pick you up.
    DCUK
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_B View Post
    Is that authoritative? I did search recently to find out which, and couldn't find many. Apparently they have to pay to use it. There are also some views about suggesting it's not as much of a good idea as it seems:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what3words-confusion-suitable-emergency-response-gary-delaney

    https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2019/03/why...t-three-words/
    I must admit their website does make out that this is open software and free to use so that is a bit naughty however they have put in the effort so why shouldn't they be rewarded for their efforts?

    The LinkedIn story just sounds like a Loc8 advert to me. I imagine Loc8 may be a better system for wilderness locations, I have no idea having never used it.

    The course I was doing was a scout based one so it is likely that in an emergency situation it will be at an organised event with activities distributed over a large area. All leaders will have a contact number for the emergency services on site so it would be very quick to open the app and share your location with them using the three words especially if the on site services are using it too.


    Quote Originally Posted by E_McNeill View Post
    I would prefer to use an app such as
    GPS share If I chose to use my telephone
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....sharelocation

    This way I can send my latitude and longitude location as a text message without need for a data signal but also include a Google Map link without a data signal which is useful to

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    I like the look of this App, thanks for sharing. Basically the same philosophy but with real co-ordinates.
    Bootstrap
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  24. #24
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    I completely don't understand this whole thing. First off, I don't use a so-called "smart" phone, just an old-fashioned flip-phone, so I don't think I could use it anyway. But, more importantly, it depends on there being a signal, doesn't it? Most places I travel, there isn't any (because there's no people, which is why I'm there... ). I have a marine vhf radio, I carry a SPOT tracker, and I have 2 compasses and very good maps - (and my dog has an excellent nose... ) so, imo, this sort of thing is of no help to me at all. Just my 2-cents.

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    The last time I called the police about five years ago, I was ready with a six fig grid ref.

    Unfortunately I was told they don't use grid references. "We need your post code". I was sat near a river bank off a public footpath watching a poacher snatch salmon. I doubt the poacher knew the right post code either.

    The phone operator was sat in Northallerton and I was sat at home having walked 100 yards from where I was viewing the river, back to my house.. "What is the name of the road you are on?" was the next question, followed by; "What is the name of the nearest town?". I explained that the offence was taking place elsewhere.

    What followed was me having to direct the operator who was carefully trying to follow my directions over the phone. "OK, can you see Whitby? Good!, Follow the blue line. It should say River Esk. OK, follow that until you get to a village marked Ruswarp..." and so on. Hopeless!

    I have not had to call the police or emergency services again, but if my experience was anything to go by then this one just won't work either. I recently attended a refresher 1st Aid course and the instructor did suggest they'd got the hang of grid references now, but never mentioned this 'What3word' system.
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  26. #26
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    David,
    a few years back a group of my trail-riding mates came across some walkers stopped on a byway. One had fallen and snapped a leg. One of the riders rode to a place he could get cell coverage and phoned for an ambulance. Same thing happened "what's the post code ?, what road are you on ?" he explained that he was about a mile from a road, but gave the nearest road junction. He was called back by an air ambulance dispatcher and gave him grid reference and landmarks. The helicopter landed in a field about 50 yds from the casualty.
    As an aside, I think people are a bit quick to call an ambulance. Often, incidents are far from life-threatening and tie up resources. I was walking my dog in the woods once and came across paramedics attending a kid with a suspected broken arm. First aid anyone ?. Sling made out of a shirt, walk home and hope your Dad isn't too cross that you fell out of a tree again !!

  27. #27
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    My thought's;

    I can see the advantage of W3W in "normal life" but then again if I can access that with my smart phone I can access google maps in most area's. I used this to navigate around Spain and France quite easily without having to open my map book.

    W3W has become popular, hence the emergency services feel they need to "buy in" spending more money from their kitty.

    Nothing is free the company who owns W3W in a similar way to FB and Google etc use the data for their own benefit.

    Although a Police operator may not understand how grid references work as soon as they start co-ordinating a rescue using another body ie RNLI/Coastguard/ mountain rescue. they will understand.

    Accents; they can make words sound different, at w*rk last week I inducted a driver with a strong accent he said mower when his name was Moore. Mower and more/moor could be the difference between life and something far far worse (in the Midland worse is pronounced wuss) D'ya get me drift?

    Me, being a traditionalist, I'll stick with maps and a compass thank you
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  28. #28
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    A problem with 3words is that you have no clue when you're close. If you say "I'm at grid reference NJ 245 678" somebody looking for you will know when they reach NJ 244 678 that you're 100m further East, even without a map or a data connection. Every location in 3words is random.
    Last edited by Chris_B; 24th-August-2019 at 08:05 PM.

  29. #29
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    W3W in the news again

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49754820


    Have to say we found it useful in our recent Ireland jollies.

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    Here in Australia there is the Emergency+ app. Itís pretty simple and therefore quite clever.

    It just displays the phones GPS coordinates in the format triple zero (999 equivalent) operators will be able to understand and use. It does this without needing a phone or data connection.

    There was an incident here in Oz involving some DofE students who got lost and ran out of water. They managed to ring triple zero but the operator kept asking them what road they were near, they were lost in the bush, they didnít have a clue. At least one of them died as a result.

    I really like the simplicity of the Emergency+ app. Itís something anyone can download (itís free) and understand. It uses universally recognised coordinates front and centre. Sure itís a 15 digit number to communicate but I thing weird random words can be challenging too.

    I recommend everyone to download the app and have it on their home page. Itís the kind of thing you just canít predict when youíll need it. Most likely the scene of a road accident. It doesnít matter if you are city centre or middle of nowhere having quality coordinates to hand that the Emergency services can understand and use is definitely something that could make a difference.




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  31. #31
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    Having spoken to some police and ambulance ops room staff about this, it seems it is used, often at the caller's instigation rather than the operator's. They say it is a start but needs confirmation by other means to accurately locate a person. Problems include use of plurals, long complicated words, poor reading skills and strong accents, all made worse by a person often under some stress. The random allocation of words means that a minor error in transcription or communication can put the location on a different continent, not just a few metres away.
    If you have signal for what3words, you also have enough signal for phone finder or other apps which will give you the phone's GPS location in various formats. The app has clever marketing and has managed to capture the public imagination, but better tools that are more accurate and easier to use are out there in everyday use.

  32. #32
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    Such a useful tool, I now recommend it in training courses as a way of pinpointing emergencies such as a broken overhead power line, or an emergency on a highway.
    As a paddler its so much easier to pinpoint a put in than a postcode and far less fussy than a grid reference.
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    I've come round to this for its use in an emergency situation in a town, city, festival, etc etc.

    Its not designed for navigation in wilder areas, just to locate you more precisely than a GR which will actually be especially useful in busy areas in a way. Like everything it does have its weaknesses, if you get it wrong in some way, errors are not going to mean missing you slightly, but being sent somewhere totally different. I'm also slightly cynical that there's a massive marketing exercise going on here and somebody is making lots of money off it.

    I hope the services in the hills and highlands will still continue to use grid references, which are much more useful for navigating itself due to their sequential nature.
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  34. #34
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    I've seen an ambulance refuse to turn out unless they were given a postcode. This did not help the guy lying in a rural ditch with a broken leg having just had a high-speed bicycle accident (he's an idiot and had been holding onto the roof of a car so was doing about 60 when he binned it). They came eventually but we had to get the police there first who lit a fire under their arse.

    Anything that would improve that situation would be better but equally, it doesn't want to become the expected way of communicating your location. Centralised call centres mean there is much less local knowledge on the part of the call handlers.
    "I'm not getting in a boat which is DESIGNED to go upside down."

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    I'm a fairly active guy with wide outdoor activities, and a family of app concious out doory kids, yet I have to be on as abstruse a web page as this one to find out about the three word thingy. If it is to have wide ranging use, then publicity on a much wider front is required, and until this occurs, I'm not indulging. (no doubt I will die in a distant ditch as a result.)

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impcanoe View Post
    I'm a fairly active guy with wide outdoor activities, and a family of app concious out doory kids, yet I have to be on as abstruse a web page as this one to find out about the three word thingy. If it is to have wide ranging use, then publicity on a much wider front is required, and until this occurs, I'm not indulging. (no doubt I will die in a distant ditch as a result.)
    Good use of the word abstruse there Peter, not one we see every day.

    To be fair, there has actually been a reasonable amount of press about this one, inc BBC and newspapers. It does, though, need a coordinated campaign by the various emergency services etc before it could ever become really useful.
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  37. #37
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    THere you are. I know "abstruse" and how to use it (?correctly in this case?) but I didn't know about the three word thingy, and I am now considering suitable steps to avoid dying in a ditch. Not sure that the ap and three word thingy will the one of them though. For one thing I tend to protect my phone so that it might not be to hand when said death event occurs.

    Hope the SotP organisation is not offended

  38. #38
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    Difficult to understand, obscure.

    Put that in what3words and you end up in north west Russia :-)

    https://what3words.com/difficult.understand.obscure

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    "Where are you?"
    'River Severn'
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  40. #40
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    I thought they missed out by not letting you assign 3 words for a location for a small fee.

    Evil, old, hag = mother in laws house....

  41. #41
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    Just to check, I tried it in "Airplane" mode today when out on the river so no data or phone signal. Worked fine, and would also then let me share that by text if I only had a text signal.

    I also use OS Locate, which will give me a grid reference whether or not I've got a signal, and let me share by text, so similar in that way.
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  42. #42
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    OS locate works well - Its saved me a bit of bother a few times Mal.
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